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A clay tablet revealing a child’s hospitality.
The Greeks had extensive customs and norms dictating how a guest ought to be treated. In those ancient times gods in disguise walked among men, so it was expected that a host treat his guests with the respect the divine deserved.
To bring woe into a host’s home was an unforgivable atrocity which would surely inspire curses upon one’s bloodline.
This tablet is adorned with the depictions of a temple, or perhaps a shrine. A butchered bull lies at its entrance.
The tablet reads:
I hunted the archer’s calf but in truth I was made prey.
By the fourth night I had collapsed. Only the did the boy
reveal himself from a bend up ahead.
“I am Asterion, adopted son of King Minos, and guardian to Daedalus’ home.
This is holy ground; at its heart there is a shrine, at its center lies a basin
on which burns a holy fire gifted by the gods themselves.
I was taught the art of hospitality, to wash a guests’ feet
and provide two thirds of my meal to thee.
I would welcome thee dearly – were there not weapons on your grasp.
Tell me, why would you raise your arm against the gods?”
With what little voice was left in my cracked throat I responded:
“It is against divine folly I turn, not the gods themselves.
I am Laomedon, son of Tithonus, in turn husband of the goddess Eos;
this husk I carry is what she left behind. She pleaded Zeus to make him undying
but in her witless daze did not ask for eternal youth.
Old age kidnapped his mind, his bones are now brittle
and his skin is as delicate as a moth’s wings.
I heard that in Crete, at the
labyrinth’s heart, once can find
a crescent moon weapon, a labrys of Hephaistos’ making.
Capable of severing an immortal’s thread.”
Perhaps a seasoned warrior would have thrown aside my tale
and left me to starve and rot in these endless hallways.
But children know not that a beggar may hide a knife under his cloak.
Topics[edit | edit source]
- Xenia - The set of customs of hospitality according to the ancient Greeks.
- An aspect of Zeus, named Zeus Xenios, is the patron of hospitality.